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Two east London nurses who would rather lose their jobs than get the COVID vaccine insist they and other staff in the same position are “not anti-vaxxers”.
The nurses, who asked to remain anonymous, will lose their jobs when the COVID-19 vaccination law for NHS staff comes into force on April 1.
However, they criticised the government’s decision to force staff to choose between the jab or their income, instead of making them “feel positive and safe”.
One nurse said: “We are not anti-vaxers, the majority of us have every other vaccination.
“We are being coerced to make a decision between our human rights and mental health and our jobs. Some of us have children to provide for and mortgages to pay. We’re not taking this decision lightly.
“I’m sure I can speak for many health professionals in saying vaccines have saved lives. We are offered the flu jab every year, but it is not pushed on us and our job is not threatened.”
A second nurse, who also asked to remain anonymous, said: “We should have our own rights in whether we choose to get vaccinated.
“We are feeling bullied right now… We could lose our jobs, our careers, our life saving skills.”
BHRUT, the hospital trust that runs King George and Queen’s Hospitals, says 1,165 members of its 7,538 staff had been vaccinated by January 14.
Chief executive Matthew Trainer has stressed publicly to staff that the decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccination is out of his control.
But he has warned that the mandate and existing staff shortages may force the hospital’s birth centre to close.
He added: “I want our staff to be vaccinated. I will be profoundly sad to see people leave the NHS, an institution they’ve often devoted their lives to, because they won’t have a vaccine that has been taken by millions of people, has saved millions of lives, and for which the side effects are rare.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “NHS and care staff do amazing work and we are thankful to those who have chosen to get the vaccine.
“Health and social care workers are responsible for looking after some of the most vulnerable people in society, many of whom are more likely to suffer serious health consequences if exposed to the virus.
“This is all about patient safety, and ensuring people in hospital or care have as much protection as possible.”